United States Air Force Academy

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Think Outside the Atmosphere


cadets working in astronautics lab

Cadets learn the fundamentals of satellites, rockets, and other space systems as well as how to design them to contribute to our national security and economy. This experience is enhanced by senior capstone projects and independent and sponsored research opportunities with a variety of government and industry partners.

About Us

In 1958, the same year NASA was formed, the Department of Astronautics was established at the U.S. Air Force Academy. Our cadets are rocket scientists, and our motto is “Learning Space by Doing Space.” We have designed, built, and launched rockets to the edge of space. We have designed and built satellites that are currently in Earth orbit and are fully funded by Air Force Research Laboratory to do the same with two more satellites over the next three years. Our cadets, from fourth year to first year, operate our ground station, controlling satellites that contribute to our national security and our understanding of the space environment. Our graduates are now conducting space-related research, acquiring our next generation of space systems, and operating our current space assets in defense of the nation.

Our program is the best in the country, as the #1 Aeronautical / Astronautical program on the 2017 U.S. News Best Colleges list.

Within the Air Force
  • 11x – Pilot
  • 13S – Space Operations
  • 62ExB Astronautical Engineer
  • 62ExG Project (General) Engineer
  • 63Ax Acquisition Manager
Outside the Air Force
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineer
  • Spacecraft Designer
  • Structural Engineer

Approximately 50% of Astronautical Engineering graduates go on to become pilots while the other half go to Acquisition or Developmental Engineering duties; 30% pursue a Master’s Degree immediately after graduation (with follow-on pilot training for many); and 20% engineering jobs.

  • Astrodynamics
  • Rocket Propulsion
  • Space Mission Design
  • Small Spacecraft Engineering
Beh Sci 110
Chem 100
Com Sci 110
English 111
For Lang 1
For Lang 2
History 100
Math 141
Math 142
Physics 110
Astro Engr 201
Astro Engr 310
Chem 200
ECE 315
English 211
Mech Engr 220
Mech Engr 320
Econ 201
Math 243
Math 245
MSS 251
Physics 215
Aero Engr 241
Astro Engr 321
Astro Engr 331
Astro Engr 351
Law 220
Engr 341
Engr 342
Mech Engr 330
Philos 310
Math 346
Math 356 /377
Pol Sci 211
Adv Sociocultural Opt
Aero Engr 315
Astro Engr 445
Astro 436
Astro 437
Astro 332
History 300
Soc Sci 311
Space Environment Opt

For full program requirements and course descriptions, download the current Course of Instruction Handbook.


The Astronautical Engineering degree is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET, www.abet.org.

To ensure the success of our graduates, we prepare them to achieve the following Program Educational Objectives within two to five years after graduation:

  • Recognition as successful Air Force officers through demonstration of their ability to:
    • Rapidly acquire required knowledge
    • Lead others effectively
    • Apply ethical and moral standards
    • Improve unit performance by application of organizational skills
    • Make sound decisions based on critical thinking
    • Communicate effectively
  • Selection for career training on, or ahead of, schedule, and for a progression of assignments of increasing responsibility
  • Demonstrated ability to solve Air Force technical problems
  • Success in continuing education

These objectives are assessed through Student Outcomes—the skills, knowledge and behaviors students should acquire before graduation. The outcomes for this program are:

  • an ability to identify, formulate, and solve complex engineering problems by applying principles of engineering, science, and mathematics
  • an ability to apply engineering design to produce solutions that meet specified needs with consideration of public health, safety, and welfare, as well as global, cultural, social, environmental, and economic factors
  • an ability to communicate effectively with a range of audiences
  • an ability to recognize ethical and professional responsibilities in engineering situations and make informed judgments, which must consider the impact of engineering solutions in global, economic, environmental, and societal contexts
  • an ability to function effectively on a team whose members together provide leadership, create a collaborative and inclusive environment, establish goals, plan tasks, and meet objectives
  • an ability to develop and conduct appropriate experimentation, analyze and interpret data, and use engineering judgment to draw conclusions
  • an ability to acquire and apply new knowledge as needed, using appropriate learning strategies

Dr. Scott Dahlke
DFAS Advisor-in-Charge